PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad: (Fri, 3, March) T&T's long distance queen Tonya Nero will lead T&T's eight member team into action at the 13th edition of the North American Central and Caribbean Cross Country Championships at the South County Regional Park, Boca Raton, Florida on Saturday, 4, March. Nero is one of two women in the contingent named by the NAAA (National Association of Athletic Administration) on Thursday, 2, March. Nero and 2016 national ladies cross country winner Samantha Shukla will do battle in the women's 8km set for 10:20am while veteran Curtis Cox is among six in the men's 8km event. He is joined by two-time defending national champion Mathew Hagley, Jules Larode, Collin Pereira, Elvis Turner and Shirvan Baboolal in the men's 8km. Nero will be aiming to win her and T&T's second individual medal in the regional meet following a historic first in the 2012 edition held in front of her home fans at the Queen's Park Savannah, Port of Spain when she won a silver medal. The Maracas, St. Joseph resident will be competing in her sixth NACAC Cross Country Championships. She was 13th in 2015 race (over 6km) in Caraballeda, Venezuela and 11th in 2014 when the race was contested at the Mt. Irvine Golf Course in Tobago. She was also 11th in 2013 when the event was held in Mandeville, Jamaica. She first represented T&T as a 17 year old in 2007 (Orlando, Florida, USA) where she crossed the line in 19th position in the Junior women's 4km.
Shukla will be making her fourth appearance. The South East POS Sec/St. Joseph Convent-POS graduate was 20th in women's 6km ran in 2016. Her best finish to date was 11th in 2010 race (Mt. Irvine, Tobago). She was also 19th (2009) and 24th (2009) in the junior women's 4km.
T&T's NACAC team
Members of T&T's 2017 NACAC Cross-Country Champion team before departing for the Piarco on Friday, 3, March. From left: Jules Larode, Elvis Turner, Matthew Hagley, Samantha Shukla, Shirvan Baboolal, Colin Pereira and Curtis Cox. (Missing is Tonya Nero). The NACAC Cross-Country Championships will take place at the South County Regional Park, Boca Raton, Florida on Saturday, 4, March. (Photo courtesy: SPORTSCORE TOBAGO)
Trinidad & Tobago Secondary Schools'
Track & Field Association
Among the men, Cox is contesting the event for the fourth time (29th-10km-2016, 26th-2012, 21st-2011, 15th-2010). However, Larode has the honour of most appearance-eight (30th-2016, 17th-2014, 22nd-2013, 19th-2012, 23rd-2011, 23rd-2010, 17th-2009, 38th-2007). Hagley is lining up in his sixth edition (31st-2016, 20th-2013, 27th-2012, 35th-2011, 22nd-2010). Baboolal (24th-2014), Pereira (229th-2012), Turner (40th-2007) will wear the national colours for the second time. The men's race will get underway at 11:00am. The local lads will also be vying for team honours and will be aiming for a top three finish for the first time ever. The best ever male team placing for the local runners was fourth at the 2010 edition. The women's team was second in 2012 and third in 2014, 2011 and 2010. However, T&T's ladies will not be battling for overall awards with only two entrants. A minimum of four finishers is the criteria to vie for team honours.
The athletes (minus Nero) left Trinidad on Friday for Orlando on a 12:30pm Caribbean Airlines flight. NAAA Secretary Dexter Voisin will serve as coach, while NAAA Director Dawn Washington is the manager and Shurland is the team's massage therapist. Nero will join the team in Orlando as she left for the USA over two weeks ago to prepare for the event at the former university, Wichita State, in Kansas. The junior women's 5km (9:00am) and junior men's 6Km (9:40am) are the first two events on the schedule. The team will hosted at Boca Raton Marriott hotel.
Washington said the delegation was chosen following the National Cross-Country Championships held in December. She added that the NAAA was confident of the chances of the male team. "When we looked at the top six (male) athletes (at the Championships) we felt that they were within range so we decided to go with a male team and we could vie for the team honours (as well)." She added she is hoping with all the members having competed in previous editions the experience will help them. "The athletes compete before and know what it (the event entails). We have a good chance once they stay fit and the weather is permissible. I expect them to do well. "
Women's 8km: Tonya Nero, Samantha Shukla
Men's 8km: Curtis Cox, Matthew Hagley, Jules La Rode, Collin Pereira, Elvis Turner, Shirvan Baboolal
Manager: Dawn Washington
Coach: Dexter Voisin
Massage therapist: Shurland Baboolal
Schedule (Saturday, 4, March)
11:00am: Men's 8km
History of T&T at NACAC Cross-Country Champs
|2015-Baranquilla, Colombia (Pan Am)|
|2014-Mt. Irvine, Tobago|
|2012-Port of Spain, Trinidad|
|2011-Port of Spain, Trinidad|
|2010-Mt. Irvine, Tobago|
|2009-Orlando, Florida, USA|
|2008-Orlando, Florida, USA||did not participate|
|2007-Orlando, Florida, USA|
|2006-Orlando, Florida, USA|
|2005-Orlando, Florida, USA||did not participate|